James “Jim” Robert Franz died Friday night at his home in Yoakum, Texas. He was 85. Jim was born April 20, 1935, in Littlefield, Texas, to Emmett and Elizabeth Franz.
Raised by his uncle and grandmother, he had three brothers and one sister, all of which preceded him in death.
He served his country in the United States Navy. In 1957, Jim met the love of his life, Betty Jean Turbyfill of Spur, Texas, and married her on January 15, 1958, in Lubbock, Texas.
While attending West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas, Jim served as the preacher of Wayside Baptist Church. Upon completing his bachelor’s and master’s, he and his family relocated to the Victoria, Texas area for a professorship at Victoria College and continued his ministry as a preacher at Hope Baptist Church.
Jim taught for 35 years at Victoria College, educating thousands of students throughout his tenure. One of his greatest joys was witnessing his student’s success and seeing them again years later.
Jim was a master gardener. Before retiring in Yoakum, he maintained multiple acres of landscaped grounds featuring rose gardens, vegetable gardens, and other horticultural wonders at his place in Fordtran, Texas.
Jim was a vibrant and popular public speaker. From civic club meetings and banquets to fundraisers and company events, he delivered hundreds of speeches. Two popular speeches were entitled, “I’m Just Looking,” and one about, “Nothing.” He aimed to interject humor and love in all he did.
Jim was a skilled wood craftsman. From his woodworking shop in Fordtran, he carved hundreds of signs that are still displayed today in front of private homes, doctor’s offices, businesses, and more. Hours were spent perfecting each carving through his remarkable attention to detail and commitment to his craft.
Jim was an avid traveler. With his wife and the occasional child, grandchild, or friend, he traveled to all 50 states, every European country, parts of Africa, Asia, and South America. His lust for adventure lead him on many amazing trips.
Jim loved and believed in education. He thought one of the most important aspects of life was education, and he was a committed life-long learner and reader. Much to the dismay of his wife, his home library was overflowing with books: fiction and nonfiction, contemporary and classic. His thirst for knowledge and education endured with him until his final days.
Jim was a proud father and grandfather. He received enormous joy bragging and sharing the latest remarkable activity of his children and grandchildren. To him, family was everything. After news of a recent cancer diagnosis, Jim remarked, “I’ve had 85 wonderful years and four beautiful children. I have no regrets.”
Survivors are his wife of 62 years, Betty Franz of Yoakum; four children, Steve Franz of Yoakum; Mitchell “Mickey” Franz and wife Audrey of Seguin; Dr. Karen Garza and husband Louis of Columbus, Ohio; and Susan Franz of The Woodlands, Texas. Jim has eight grandchildren: Eric (Amber) Soehnge of Katy, Texas, Taylor Franz of Seguin, Texas, Meaghan Franz of Refugio, Texas, Karli (Tyler) Stegemen of Spring, Texas, Bryson (Heidi) Franz of West Columbia, Texas, Mitchell Franz of Yoakum, Texas, Walker Franz of Dallas, Texas and Harris Franz of Seguin, Texas. Jim was blessed with four great-grandchildren: Bracken Franz of Gonzales, Texas, Lincoln Franz of Fort Worth, Texas, and Olivia and Charlotte Stegemen of Spring, Texas.
Visitation will be held Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 4-6 p.m. at Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, Memorials may be made to Bluebonnet Youth Ranch or Yoakum Public Library.
Online guest book may be signed at www.thielecooper.com Arrangements by Thiele-Cooper Funeral Home, Yoakum, 361-293-5656.